Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Hypochondriac's Guide to Books: Introduction

When I was in the seventh grade, our science teacher read the first chapter of The Hot Zone to our class. It was not a good experience. I have always been a worrier and a hypochondriac.

Emphasis on TERRIFYING.

After class that day, the teacher had to call my mom, because I was visibly not okay. I had never heard of ebola before, and after The Hot Zone's graphic descriptions of the symptoms, I subsequently spent the next 15 years worrying that I was going to get it, despite having never left the United States.

(I finally got over that worry — you know, as you do — as soon as that first case of ebola actually made its way to Texas. Because I don't worry about realistic problems.)

But to this day, I generally try not to read things that I think will freak me out. And more than once, I have googled "hypochondria [insert book title here]" to no avail. Apparently that's not something people think to include when they write book reviews.

But I decided that someone should go ahead and start this vital service! Because I have had several book club picks come up where I have been very worried about the month's selected or potential books, and people don't tend to take me seriously when I ask them if they think it will make me freak out. (It doesn't take much to freak me out.)

The first book I'm going to review is actually the one that I resisted for months in my new book club. Someone suggested Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, and I asked the other members about the hypochondria factor, and they all told me that it was fine, I'd be fine, etc. etc. and yet I refused to believe them or vote for it and was basically a baby until finally they picked it anyway.

I'm actually pretty excited about revisiting some of the books I've read recently with illness factors, and maybe I can help someone out who does the same googling that I do.

Do you have any irrational worries? What do you look for in a book review?

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